Will widespread use of ChatGPT lead to key parts of the strategic advisor’s role being obsolete? After all, if a chat bot can be instructed clearly enough, then surely it can draft accurately many of the day-to-day documents that advisors craft for their clients.
ChatGPT has generated – in addition to impressive written responses – a level of intrigue, discussion and conjecture that is hard to overstate. While much of this has centred on the Big Tech industry and its combined trillions of dollars in market cap, there has also been significant speculation surrounding the potential implications that text generative AI could have for wider industries such as ours, the strategic communications profession.
However, to misquote Mark Twain, rumours of the death of the advisor have been greatly exaggerated!
To begin with, despite Elon Musk’s recent tongue-in-cheek comments about the risks of ChatGPT’s integration in Bing ‘going haywire and killing everyone’, it is important to recognise that AI chat bots are a nascent technology and, at least for the time being, have notable limitations which necessitate continued human input.
Firstly, the process through which chat bots access and repackage information remains fraught with reliability issues and is liable to manipulation. As such, for communications consultants who choose to use these technologies, enhanced due diligence will be required with continued fact-checking and proofing needed before materials can be released to the public.
Additionally, a more fundamental consideration to bear in mind is that while chat bots excel in rapidly drafting well-structured summaries of chosen topics, they lack the ability to use nuanced language capable of resonating with specific audiences. As communications consultants we help companies develop a voice and tone which is unique to them and resonates with their key stakeholders. Chat bots in their current form lack this level of subtlety and innate understanding of an intended audience.
To this end, the role of the communications consultant will remain essential in helping companies to develop the unique tone of voice and key messages on which all communications materials should be based.
The idea that chat bots pose a threat to communications consultancies also entails a rather reductive understanding of the services advisory firms provide to clients. More specifically we see an excessive focus on the work consultancies do in drafting communications materials, which ignores their crucial role in deciding strategy around what, when and how to communicate in the first place. Even prior to ChatGPT, any company could draft their own communications, but it is the knowledge of the media landscape and wealth of experience that makes advisors’ services valuable.
Although the adoption of AI systems like ChatGPT could certainly reduce the barriers to entry associated with communicating on pertinent issues, this does not diminish the value of strategic advice. Instead, the potential saturation of key communication channels with undifferentiated material, could actually see greater demand for more creative and self-aware communication strategies, which will be needed to cut through noise and secure clients a voice.
Recognising these points, the correct way to conceptualise chat bots should be as supplements to, rather than replacements of, existing ways of working. Here the emphasis should be placed on how chat bots can sharpen existing proficiencies and streamline the execution of low skilled work.
I myself have found it useful in my work in anything from proofing pieces of content I produce to assisting with research. It’s ability to connect dots between topics and information has given it a clear utility for me.
In this way chat bots are powerful tools for freeing up time and headspace, allowing consultants to focus on strategic thinking and explore innovative communications approaches. Ultimately, the things which matter most to our clients.
Of course, it would be remiss not to accept that with technological developments comes potential for disruption and efficiency gains may lead to a change in how companies are operated and structured. Despite this though, it is clear to see that opportunities for the most imaginative and open-minded individuals remain plentiful. And this is no bad thing.
Written by Jonah Boon